By Hollie Bethany
Safety is Not a Four Letter Word
The safe use and design of toys may start
at the drawing board, but it must end at the home or childcare
My child acts insane. There, I can admit it. Unfortunately, there are
many other parents who will not admit it or do not know it. Because
of the litigious society we live in, retailers and manufacturers
have to try to tap into the minds of these maniac kids before
releasing new products to the market, and parents have to accept
their responsibility for the safe use of toys.
Manufacturers have design teams that come up with cool new things to
tempt your kiddies. They design it, build a prototype, and then run
it through testing to meet safety standards. Some even put their
toys through hands-on kids testing, which is a good way to find the
dangers of “wild child” use.
After a toy is released, some retailers and parents look on the
safety standards approval as a go that everything is fine. But, oh,
that is where danger lurks.
Retailers who offer “play areas” for the testing of a new toy
are doing the right thing. In this area, the parent and perhaps a
“play consultant” should be focusing on how the child interacts
with the toy. If my little Hunter is constantly misusing the toy in a
way that could cause injury to him or another, the “play
consultant” should attempt to offer the parent an alternative toy
designed for parent-child interaction. It’s a hard place to be in
as a retailer; you do not want to say, “Hey your kid is a freak”.
Okay maybe you WANT to say it and maybe you should say it, but don’t.
Parents who do interact with their children when they play will
usually be the first to admit their child tends to try to find
the danger in a toy. Parents who think meeting safety standards
means there is no need for supervision may not even realize what
their child’s play habits are. By suggesting toys that require
parent-child interaction, the retailer is filling an important link
in the chain of safety.
Parents, you know what I’m going to say here, right? Yes, it is
important for children to have some independence in play, BUT you
should still be involved. Be a playmate in the game, or a silent
observer. Get to know your child’s play habits and then you can
choose toys safely matching those tendencies as well as placing them
for “un-hospital-trip-eventful” use.
“HUNTER STOP JUMPING OFF THE ROCKING HORSE ON TO THE COUCH.” Oops,
have to go.
~ Happy Playing! ~
Name: Hollie Bethany AKA The ToyDirectory MOM
Education: MBA International Economics and Marketing, Augusta State
Toy Industry Experience: Ty Europe, GyGy Inc., Aquatat.com, SunKids
Child: Hunter, age 2 ½, thinks he is a stunt man.
About my column: A sometimes humorous toy industry/business issues
perspective as tainted by the eyes of a mother.